European Parliament adopts law on nature restoration: despite low ambition, hope remains for ocean restoration

Press Release Date: July 12, 2023

Location: Strasbourg


Emily Fairless, Communications Officer | email: | tel.: +32 478 038 490

The European Union’s efforts to move forward its green agenda received a boost today [12 July] as the European Parliament adopted its position on the EU Nature Restoration Law (NRL).

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gathered in Strasbourg to approve the NRL report, which has been a point of much contention in recent months. With the law seemingly being exploited as a springboard for next year’s European elections by conservative, far-right and some liberal MEPs, those in favour of adopting a legal framework on nature restoration opted to bring the Parliament’s position in line with that of the European Council, which approved its General Approach on the law last month.

This was a success in terms of getting enough backing from MEPs, including some conservatives in the European People’s Party who have faced considerable pressure from their group leader, German MEP Manfred Weber, to torpedo the NRL in an attempt to secure the vote of farmers, fishers and foresters in next year’s EU elections. However, by aligning itself with the European Council’s position, the Parliament has voted for a weak text that will do little to meaningfully restore nature, prevent biodiversity loss or fight climate change. The Parliament also adopted language to ensure the Common Fisheries Policy delivers timely ocean restoration measures.

Nicolas Fournier, Campaign Director for Marine Protection at Oceana in Europe, said: “Today’s vote is positive, in that the European Parliament has chosen to save the Nature Restoration Law rather than succumb to election politics. Even if the deal is weaker than hoped for, the new deadlines and provisions on the Common Fisheries Policy are worth celebrating. These will ensure fisheries – the largest pressure on marine biodiversity – are fit to deliver ocean restoration. We call on MEP Luena to strongly defend this in trilogue negotiations, so that the Nature Restoration Law becomes a reality for the largest ecosystem on Earth, the ocean.”

Tatiana Nuño, Senior Marine Policy Officer at Seas At Risk, said: “Today, the European Parliament has backed a Nature Restoration Law, giving us hope for the future of Europe’s seas. It’s still disappointing that the law fell victim to populist grandstanding led by conservatives and the far-right and was significantly weakened overall. There is a long way to go until we have the necessary, ambitious tools to face the climate and biodiversity crises, and now is the time for EU citizens to send a strong signal to the political class at next year’s elections that they won’t stand for politicians playing political games with their future.”

The law will now face another round of ‘trilogue’ negotiations where the European Parliament, Commission and Council will agree on the final text, under the guidance of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Seas At Risk and Oceana urge all those involved to act in line with both scientific advice and the urgency the crisis demands by approving a stronger text by the end of the year.